Physical Activity in Winter

Here are some things to keep in mind when you're being physically active in cooler weather.

Warm up and cool down thoroughly.

Take time for your body to prepare for and recover from activity.

Drink lots of fluids before, during and after exercise.

When the weather's cold, we often forget to drink water, but it's still important to stay hydrated. Try to drink 1 cup (250 ml) of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise.

Dress for the weather.

Wear warm clothing, such as a toque, scarf and mittens. Cover exposed skin. Dress in layers and choose an inner layer of fabrics that pull moisture away from your skin. The outer layer should keep the wind out (for instance, a windproof or waterproof jacket). In very cold weather, include a fluffy middle layer to trap heat (for instance, a fleece liner). Take extra socks, toque and mittens in case yours get wet. Wear appropriate footwear that fits properly (like insulated waterproof shoes or boots). Since it gets darker earlier in winter, wear brightly coloured clothes or a reflective vest.

Try a winter activity.

Tobogganing, snowshoeing, skiing, skating, snowboarding, and walking are all fun winter activities.

Take breaks when you need to.

Don't push yourself until you're exhausted.

Stay active year-round.

By keeping your body in shape, you'll avoid injuries from activities that you only do at a certain time of year (like skiing).

Watch for icy patches.

To avoid falls, choose routes that are cleared of snow and ice, and wear boots or shoes with a good tread. Be careful when walking on roads since cars may have difficulty seeing and avoiding you in rain or snow.

Do activities in a place that's sheltered from the wind.

Plan for places you can go to warm up if it gets too cold.

Do indoor activities.

If the weather's very cold, join a gym, work with an exercise video at home or do your exercises at your local recreation centre or swimming pool.

Create a culture of fitness.

Give activity-related gifts on holidays and birthdays, like pedometers (an instrument that counts your steps), yoga mats, swim goggles, snowshoes, a hockey stick, athletic socks, exercise bands, a stability ball, tickets to a sporting event, a physical activity book or magazine, a fitness membership, or a trial pass to a gym, or recreation centre.

Last Reviewed: December 2016


© 2016 Province of British Columbia. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a health professional. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only. 

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

Thanks to our partners and endorsers: